Cannabis & Cancer: Fake News is Winning, and That’s a Problem

Tape Covering Mouth

[Canniseur: Please read this important information about false reports. Cannabis can help with symptoms, but current research has NOT proven cannabis cures cancer.]

Online searches for cancer cures is leading desperate people to be deceived by fake news about cannabis. The good news just isn’t there yet.

Joy Smith lives in the United Kingdom, where — up until last fall — cannabis was illegal in all applications (and, despite some advances in drug-policy reform, remains prohibited on a practical level). In 2016, Joy Smith was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer and given six weeks to live.

In pain, desperate, Smith supplemented her chemotherapy with cannabis oil — full-spectrum Rick Simpson oil, THC and all, which she had to break the law to obtain.

You probably know where this is going. In 2019, Joy Smith is alive. Her cancer is no longer terminal. Smith credits cannabis oil for her remarkable turnaround. She credits the medicine for saving her life, for “curing” her cancer.

Which means — sorry, but it’s true! — that Smith is also a bit of a bullsh*tter. And whether she knows it or not, she’s making it easier for many other much more unscrupulous and vile bullsh*tters to prey on susceptible and desperate people.

Cannabis absolutely appears to help people suffering from cancer. Cannabis helps them sleep, cannabis helps them eat, cannabis is good for pain. Cancer causes pain, cancer treatments like chemotherapy can make it difficult to eat, and stress and anxiety are hell on sleep, which the body needs to heal. These are observations supported by research as well as anecdotes.

But treating symptoms or side effects is different than treating the disease. Does cannabis do that? Maybe! But we just don’t know yet.

Yes, there is that Guzman study, in which THC was found to shrink tumors in rats. Yes, there are plenty of people who are using cannabis as part of their cancer treatment and having success. But is it chemo and cannabis, radiation and cannabis? Does cannabis make the conventional treatments more successful, or just easier to handle? Is it THC, is it CBD, is it a particular terpene? Is it good for this cancer, or bad for that one?

The only honest answer is that we don’t know. We don’t, because nobody knows — not researchers, not physicians — and anyone saying they know for certain is full of sh*t and probably selling something.

As some medical researchers observed in a recent article published in the journalCureus, the internet is full of such charlatans in search of easy prey — and whether terminal or not, cancer patients and their families appear especially susceptible to such flummery,

Siyu Shi, Arthur Brant, and Erqi Pollom are radiation oncologists at Stanford University, which is located in Palo Alto, California. That’s in the Bay Area — that is, one of the most marijuana friendly regions in the world. Aaron Sabloch is also a radiation oncologist, in Portland, Oregon, also a legal state with a thriving cannabis industry.

Troubled by promises of cancer treatment proliferating online (possibly the marijuana world’s most pernicious example of “fake news”) the oncologists took a look at some internet search trends and found that over the past seven years, there’s been a marked increase in the number of Google searches for cannabis and cancer.

Fulfilling this need, several questionable websites that source poorly or not at all have posted content that’s gone absolutely viral — that promises, without qualification, that cannabis cured various cancers.

Of the ten most viral online stories that made these claims, at least two referenced  Smith, the researchers found. The accurate information is out there, but in what’s become a sad trend — visible during the 2016 election, and visible now — it was the fake news that went wild on Facebook and that your excitable relatives and friends won’t stop posting about.

“The top false news story proposing cannabis as a cancer cure, ‘Cancer institute finally admits marijuana kills cancer,’ generated 4.26 million engagements,” the researchers wrote. “Snopes, a fact-checking organization, published a report challenging this false news story, but this report generated only 2,207 total engagements.”

Essentially, there’s an information war afoot on the internet about cannabis and cancer — and facts and truth are losing, bad.

It’s not at all that mainstream medicine doesn’t like cannabis. Far from it. According to the researchers, 80 percent of oncologists discuss cannabis with their patients, and 46 percent recommend using cannabis to control their symptoms.

Here’s an anecdote for you: my dad has cancer. Stage IV. Metastatic cancer. I tried to get him to use cannabis for years — years! — before he finally started taking a 1:1 gelcap mix, about 10 milligrams each of THC and CBD, before bed. He’s doing great now, but he’s also on immunotherapy and other conventional cancer treatments. Had he ditched his oncologist for cannabis, I am positive he would be dead. I believe the cannabis is helping in some how, but I have no proof for this and I cannot be sure.

Not everyone exists in a network, personal and online, that is so rational. As per the researchers, almost 40 percent of news stories shared on social media concerned alternative cures — and of these, the most common claimed alternative treatment was cannabis. That is, most stories about treating cancer in unconventional ways are bullsh*t.

“[T]he false news of a cannabis cancer cure is spreading quickly online and interest in such news stories is rapidly rising,” the research article concludes. “In the face of this concerning increase, there has been a minimal online presence by major cancer hospitals and organizations,” who have an opportunity and a challenge to present measured and accurate information.

I would like to think that Smith — who, you should remember, did not abandon her conventional cancer treatment but supplemented it with cannabis — isn’t consciously guilty of spreading false hope. I think she believes the cannabis helped. But for now, that is exactly what anyone who claims “cannabis cures cancer” is doing.

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Comments

    • Kaiulani Schuler
    • July 8, 2019
    Reply

    In october , 2013, I was diagnosed with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis and given weeks to live. Average survival after diagnosis is 2.8 months but since I had 9 spread out tumors, I was given less in my prognosis. Chemo and immunotherapies were too large molecule to cross the blood brain barrier and since I had so many tumors and they were spread out, i wasn’t eligible for targeted radiation. Western medicine had nothing for me so I googled” what naturopathic substance crosses the blood-brain barrier and kills cancer?” and I got “Cannabis”. I ingested large volumes of high-quality CBD oil and 3 weeks later (when I was supposed to be dead), 4 of the 9 brain tumors were gone without a trace. I not only hold the world record for being alive after that diagnosis, I have been “no evidence of disease” since May 2014… over 5 years! I have found over 300 peer-reviewed medical journal articles on Cannabis and cancer. So don’t pretend you’ve done you’re research by touching on Guzman’s initial study. You can be smug and stupid all you want but if you had been in my shoes, you’d be smug and stupid and dead. Unfortunately, publishing your smugness and ignorance is endangering people’s lives by negating a proven cancer killer that crosses the blood brain barrier (so few western treatments do). Why on earth would you do so? There is no reason to NOT try Cannabis as a complementary therapy. There is nothing to lose. When you’ve been given weeks to live, you don’t have time to wait for that clinical trial that is just a gleam in some scientist’s eye. Especially when disinformation like yours is preventing Cannabis from becoming legal to research and conduct clinical trials! You’re just trying to be big man on campus pretending you know better than others when you obviously don’t. Shame on you!

      • Annie
      • July 8, 2019
      Reply

      Hi. We’re glad you wrote in and told us of your own experience. Yours is an important one to hear. My best bet is there are a lot of folks who have had your same results. The biggest problem is that scientific research is lacking. It’s our greatest hope that cannabis can cure cancer. It’s just that, for now, all we have are personal (and compelling) experiences.

      • Azucena Vazquez
      • September 20, 2019
      Reply

      Hi my name is azucena I’m not sure if you will see this but I have some questions regard the type of oils you took. My mother has terminal cancer and she was just recently told to stop chemo as it is no longer working. Can you please contact me at…

      [Canniseur: If someone wants to contact you with info, they are encouraged to contact you through Canniseur. We will then pass the info on. info@steveh139.sg-host.com]

      • Tanya Brown-Swedlund
      • September 30, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Kaiulani Schuler,

      Your post is awesome and your story very moving. I am a Cannabis Research Specialist and spend my time researching Cannabis cures and success stories like yours. Would you be interested in writing for me your story that I can share on my employers facebook? I work for sweet leaf Pioneer Medical in Eagle Colorado. I have a hard time finding stories like yours that are current. Thanks Tanya Lynne Swedlund
      tanya@sweetleafpioneer.com

    • Justin S.
    • September 5, 2019
    Reply

    Definitely, your story is inspiring. Giving people some kind of hope to hold onto. I’m glad you also replied to this article, it made me smile if just for a while. The CBD may not work for everyone but if it helps a percentage of people then what’s wrong with taking it and hoping to be one of those it might help. I’m all for it.

  1. Reply

    Ugh, this story is so poorly researched, making grand generalization from one paper. Yes, its complicated, yes it’s only pre clinical data, but the hundreds of anecdotal stories that are show it can work. It’s not a miracle cure all for every cancer. But the potential is huge, for cancer and almost every disease. I shrank my terminal recurrent ovarian (HGSC, BRCA1/2-, P53+) cancer on cannabis alone. In 5 weeks of taking high dose full extract oil my tumor shrank 50%, a larger drop than any I had on previous 3 years of chemo. I am maintaining my remission on Cannabis. this is my story. http://www.schedule1movie.com

    • Susan Holmes
    • September 19, 2020
    Reply

    Hi,

    I think I’ll add my name to this list of people using THC to treat their cancer. I was diagnosed with one of the rarer and deadlier forms of Breast cancer (HER2+) in 2019. I was told that if I didn’t have chemo, I’d be dead within a year – 18 months. I’m still here! No chemo – fit and healthy and enjoying life – no matter how long I have left! You need to take this article down – it’s a rude, self-opinionated piece of BS that does not even consider that perhaps what we are saying is true! Very poor journalism 🙁

      • Steve Haskin
      • October 2, 2020
      Reply

      Susan-We did not remove your post! It’s been a while getting to approve posts since I’ve been undergoing cancer treatment as well. I have/had kidney cancer. No chemo. Lots of THC and CBD. The tumor seems to be gone, thankfully. So don’t be hard on us. We never remove posts like this and I’m super duper happy you’ve had a great experience with cannabis and your cancer. The point of the article was to show that there’s a lot of misinformation out there as well and far too little peer-reviewed science about cannabis and cancer. We need more real research for sure. Keep getting better and better!

      • Nigel
      • January 20, 2021
      Reply

      High Susan, I am trying to find a CBD oil that genuinely helps with breast cancer. I would be grateful of any information that any one has I have been told RSO oil but do not know where I can find the genuine product Regards Nigel
      clearitout@ntlworld.com

        • pjmcneill
        • February 4, 2021

        Hi Nigel, I sent you a lengthy email on 25th January, but suspect that you haven’t received it. For the benefit of others, I will recap.

        In late 2018, after discovering a lump, my partner was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. This is one of the worst types, with the least-promising outcomes, and unusual in a woman of her age (she had just turned 72). She was, of course, very shaken by this.

        I showed her some articles about Lin Coxon, and she agreed to trying CBD until her chemotherapy was due to start.

        After some research, I bought her LoveCBD’s Entourage capsules. She took six of these (120mg) each day for about 3 months, until February 2019, when she was due to start treatment. By this time, she was no longer able to find the lump, and a subsequent scan showed it to have ‘flattened’.

        Nevertheless, my partner decided to go ahead with the chemotherapy. She had eight sessions, then radiotherapy, followed by surgery to remove a couple of lymph glands and a small amount of ’tissue’.

        She has made a full recovery, and remains in near-perfect health. I doubt that the outcome would have been the same if she had not taken the CBD.

    • Susan Holmes
    • September 19, 2020
    Reply

    So you removed by post! You ‘news’ really is ‘hand-selected’ haha… watch out for my review of your site… I’ll post a link on this page when I finish it so that you can find it easily… SHAME ON YOU!

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